Zika Virus: WHO needs $56m for strategic response

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For the Joint Response of the World Health Organisation and the Regional Office for the Americas, and the Pan American Health Organisation, plus the work of key partners in the recently launched global strategy to tackle the Zika virus, the world health body says it needs $56 million.

According to Natela Menabde, executive director of the WHO Office in New York, the UN member states during a briefing to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Under the Strategic Response Framework and Joint Operations Plan, $25 million would fund the joint response while $31 million would fund the work of key partners.

The strategy focused on mobilising and coordinating partners, experts and resources to help countries enhance surveillance of the Zika virus and disorders that could be linked to it.

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Menabde added that the strategy also aims at improving vector control, effective risk communication, guidance and protection measures, medical care to those affected and fast-track research and development of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.

She said in the interim, WHO has tapped a recently established emergency contingency fund to finance its initial operations.

Under the new emergency programme, the global health agency activated an “Incident Management System’’ which now oversees the global response and leverage expertise from across the organisation to address the crisis.

So far 34 countries have reported the Zika virus outbreak, mostly in the Americas and Caribbean, and seven reported an increase in cases of microcephaly.

She said Brazil had registered more than 4,700 suspected cases of microcephaly and a quarter was only studied for the moment.

Before the outbreak, the average number of microcephaly every year was just 163 cases. The increase being witnessed, she said,  now was definitely a source of serious concern.

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ECOSOC President, Oh Joon, who is also the Permanent Representative of South Korea to the UN, said on Feb. 1, that based on recommendations of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee, WHO declared the increasing cases of neonatal and neurological disorders amid the growing Zika outbreak in the Americas a public health emergency. “

The health threat associated with the Zika Virus disease in Latin America and the Caribbean is very real. “The rise of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders in the affected regions is extremely worrying,’’ he said.

Joon said all the reports raised the question of preparedness of health systems and institutions to respond to the needs of infected women and men, children born with microcephaly, and their families, especially their mothers.

 

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